Today we'll look over a very intriguing five rounds from last week's draft, a set that might be more impressive than the previous five picks, provided everybody signs. And just in case you missed our previous installments: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett and Tyler Pill, and Rounds 5–10.
Round 11: Christian Montgomery, RHP, Lawrence Central HS (IN). In the 11th round, Montgomery is an excellent pick. A couple rounds earlier, and he'd merely be defensible. And any earlier than that would have been a seriously poor use of an early pick. But in selecting Montgomery here, at this point in the draft, Chad MacDonald has provided the Mets with a high schooler who is both pretty likely to sign and could provide some serious upside. Last summer, there was a lot of buzz about Montgomery due to a string of performances on the showcase circuit that put his fastball in the low-90s with a clean arm action. He paired that with a hard upper-70s downer curve that had excellent break and an occasional slider. The Major League Scouting Bureau even gave him a first-round grade.
Unfortunately, after a strong first start, Montgomery has been extremely disappointing all spring. The heater velocity is down to the mid 80s—and several believe the shoulder is hurt—the curve not nearly as sharp, and his command is pretty dreadful. When you look at his delivery, you can find a few easy things he's doing wrong: his stride is moderate, he lands stiffly, he actually pivots his landing foot as he brings his weight over, he can have some trouble finding his release point, and the arm is doing too much work. It's certainly possible that if a pitching coach can clean at least some of that up the true Christian Montgomery will emerge. Unfortunately, there are also reasons to believe that won't be possible. At 6-1, 230 pounds (other places list him at 240), Montgomery is decidedly doughy and not a great athlete—better athletes have easier times learning mechanics and maintaining them over the course of games. He's also been criticized for his work ethic, which does have one beneficial side effect: with a commitment only to Chipola Junior College, he's shown little interest in college and should be an easier sign. Still, if Montgomery decides to dedicate himself, he might work hard next year and hope to emerge with a bigger paycheck in 2012.
Round 12: Kenny Mathews, LHP, Diamond Bar HS (CA). The Mets are really raiding Cal State-Fullerton's 2012 roster, aren't they? After taking junior Tyler Pill in the fourth round, the Mets took recruit Matt Budgell in the tenth and another in Mathews here. Whereas most of the other prep arms the Mets have taken to this point are high-upside guys, Mathews is more of a potential pitchability lefty. There may be some projection left to his 6-foot-3-inch frame, but I'm not expecting enough to boost Mathews up to average velocity. Right now, he's sitting in the mid-80s. That said, he's very athletic and is expected to be a two-way player if he attends Fullerton, also playing outfield, and he's surprisingly polished for a two-way player, who often benefit tremendously by focusing on just one position. Despite the polish, his curve isn't anything special, and it's not helped by his arm slot, but he also adds a changeup to give him an appealing three-pitch mix. I haven't seen him pitch yet, but the reports suggest that the delivery is smooth and the arm action clean. I'm not very sure about his signability, and he's been publicly noncommittal since being drafted. I do think he's the sort of player who would benefit from a couple years at Fullerton with the chance to land more money down the road.
Round 13: Robert Gsellman, RHP, Westchester HS (CA). Unlike the other players the Mets have selected to this point in the draft, Gsellman was completely off my radar. He apparently had some helium as the draft approached among scouts in the Los Angeles area. Like Mathews, Gsellman is most remarkable for his athleticism, being not just a two-way baseball player but also a two-sport athlete; basketball is his second. As you'd expect from a forward, Gsellman has some height on his side, standing at 6-4 210 pounds, and I've seen more places list him at 6-6. So projection is certainly the name of the game with Gsellman. What velocity he has (86-89) comes with very little effort, and it's easy to imagine ways to improve it, as he cuts himself off during his delivery and doesn't show great torque in his torso. He needs polish across the board, however. Some scouts have preferred him as an outfielder, and he has raw power and the long limbs needed to generate leverage. It should serve as a fallback in case pitching doesn't work out. I have no idea how signable he is, but one piece of good news is that I haven't been able to attach him to a college commitment.
Round 14: Xorge Carrillo, C, Arizona State. The Mexican-born Carrillo, whose first name is pronounced exactly like 'Jorge,' is your standard defense-first catcher. At the plate, the senior's approach is exceedingly simple: see the ball, hit the ball. His swing is short, but his lower body is static, and he doesn't have a lot of batspeed. No power's going to emerge from his soft-ish body, and he lacks patience at the plate. He may make decent contact, but that should be all he's able to provide with the bat. As a result, he often found himself playing behind teammate Austin Barnes, who possessed the inverse skillset. In the field, he's somewhat more dynamic. He's improved his footwork substantially over his two seasons at Arizona State, and the arm is above average. He will need to watch his conditioning, and he's been criticized for his work ethic in the past, but he deserves credit for improving both over the past year.
Round 15: Phillip Evans, SS, La Costa Canyon HS (CA). Evans has a chance to be the best value pick the Mets make in this draft class, if not necessarily its best player. A tad undersized at 5-10 and 185 pounds, Evans is a polished high school athlete with a more limited upside than Brandon Nimmo. Tools are what worry scouts; Evans's are no more than average across the board. His speed is probably fringe-average, his arm is average, his raw power is fringe-average, and although he has soft hands and nimble feet, his range will prohibit him from playing short at higher levels. It's not an exciting package. And yet Evans is a very good prospect who works hard, is instinctive and smart. His career will be made on the strength of his bat, and he has the chance to be a good offensive second baseman. He has a quick bat and a smooth, pretty right-handed swing with a very slight incline. Strong wrists give him surprising power for a guy his size. He also utilizes his legs and hips well, further allowing him to drive the ball. Adding in above-average defense at second, it looks like Evans's ceiling could be that of a Jose Vidro-type player at second. A strong commitment is what dropped Evans down to the 15th round, however, and he seemed pretty sure of attending San Diego State as the draft approached. If the Mets can sign him—and it'll take some money to get it done—it will be a coup. If not, little harm done.